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Italian Americans Charge "Protect Our Constitution" Group with Ethnic Stereotyping

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900 kcafiero@osia.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 2, 2006 - The Protect Our Constitution (POC), a political campaign committee in Tallahassee, Florida, is guilty of "egregious stereotyping" of Italian Americans, charges the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest Italian American organization in the United States.

The CSJ action was triggered by the airing of a POC TV commercial in favor of an amendment to the Florida constitution that would require broader public support of changes to the state constitution. The commercial can be seen at the POC's Website: www.protectourconstitution.org/mx/hm.asp?id=MediaCenter and click on Constitution For Sale.

In the 30-second political spot, a group of swarthy, olive-skinned men in black sit around a table in a dark room, drinking and smoking cigars. As the theme from The Godfather plays in the background, they mock how easy it is to get the state constitution changed to favor illegal activities and preferential tax treatment.

"The CSJ is non-partisan and has no opinion of the merits of this amendment," says CSJ National President Albert DeNapoli, Esq. "However, we take very strong objection to this commercial which is disrespectful and offensive to Florida's one million Italian Americans.

This ad also underscores how Hollywood's stereotyping of Italian Americans as gangsters has permeated all levels of our society and contaminated even the democratic political process," he says.

Florida ranks fifth among the states with the most Italian Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

On Nov. 1, the CSJ faxed a letter to the POC registered agent, Mark Wilson, Sr. Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, a major POC backer, demanding that this offensive commercial be immediately and permanently removed and that the POC issue a public apology for its "egregious lack of respect to Italian Americans in Florida and the rest of the nation."

The Commission for Social Justice® is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization in the U.S. for men and women of Italian heritage. Founded in 1905, today OSIA has 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 lodges or chapters coast to coast.